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Emerging leader helping to drive change at Catholic Homes

Catholic Homes is changing the way it cares for older adults after introducing sweeping changes using the Montessori approach to care.

Senior occupational therapist Elizabeth Oliver, the driving force behind the organisation’s transition to Montessori care, won Catholic Health Australia’s Emerging Leader award in recognition of her work in the innovative new field of aged care last year.

“Montessori is an enablement approach that focuses on ‘doing with’ rather than ‘doing for’. We actively encourage residents to have greater involvement in the running of their home by carrying out day to day tasks such as bed-making and dusting,” Ms Oliver explained.

 “We also offer opportunities for residents to maintain or improve their level of independence, for example, we have implemented a new ‘self-serve’ breakfast where residents can serve their own food, with help from our care staff only where needed.

 “We’ve created meaningful job roles for residents, and implemented therapeutic group activities with a restorative and rehabilitative focus, rather than the traditional activity program with an emphasis on entertainment. We’ve also made changes to the environment such as the use of signage and activity stations.”

Catholic Homes Chief Executive Officer Sonya Smart said the organisation’s transition to Montessori is already reaping benefits for residents.

"Montessori is a familiar term for many of us in relation to education, but it has only been applied to older adults in the recent years,” she said.

 “The success Catholic Homes has experienced in the past 12 months has been incredible, as it provides the framework for realising our vision for residents to enjoy a high level of independence, high self-esteem and quality of life.”